Vantage Associate Principal Michael Pincus gets a certain twinkle in his eye when he describes the satisfaction that comes from coaxing seemingly incompatible technologies into working together. Corporate videoconferencing systems don’t pair easily with Skype, for example.
But that was exactly what Pincus did when the people at Road Scholar – the “lifelong learning” company – asked Vantage to come up with a plan for implementing cutting-edge videoconferencing (VC) and collaboration capabilities in their U.S. offices in a way that would also connect with their Skype-using facilities throughout the world.
The U.S. portion of the project was a familiar task for Pincus, a communications expert who specializes in designing videoconferencing solutions for clients in higher education, the performing arts, corporate entities and houses of worship.
He designed a state-of-the–art VC system to connect Road Scholar’s five primary U.S. locations: an executive board room and two-section multipurpose room at their headquarters in Boston, a training facility roughly 30 miles away and a pair of call centers in Lowell, MA, and Brattleboro, VT.
And then, drawing on his extensive knowledge of software, operating systems and videoconferencing functionality, Pincus came up with a “global solution” to the puzzle by adding middleware to interface between the corporate videoconferencing and Skype systems. The result delighted the people at Road Scholar.
“Skype works great for what it was designed to do: one-on-one image and voice chat between friends,” Pincus said. “But it wasn’t designed for multi-location conferencing. Some screen-sharing features have been added to Skype, but its proprietary protocols make it difficult to integrate with professional VC systems.”
We get a lot of work this way. Our clients come to us for advice. They like what they hear, and those ideas become projects.
But it can be done, as Pincus reassured the people at Road Scholar.
“They came to us asking simply, ‘What are our options?’ They knew they needed to upgrade their communications, so they came to us for information, guidance and advice,” Pincus said. “They didn’t ask for specific designs, because they weren’t sure exactly what was possible.
“Once we presented our recommendations, they immediately decided they wanted us to design the system we described. We get a lot of work this way. Our clients come to us for advice, they like what they hear, and those ideas become projects.”
Those plans are now complete, bids are being evaluated, and installation is about to begin. Pincus will stay with the project in an oversight capacity, serving as an advocate for Road Scholar, addressing any issues that come up during construction.
He’ll conduct acceptance testing and approve closeout documents as the project moves forward, until the integrated system he designed comes to life. And when it does, there’s certain to be an unmistakable twinkle of satisfaction in his eyes.